Jean-Claude Van Damme Says Steven Seagal Turned Down $20 Million To Fight Him For Real In The 90s

By on June 17, 2024 in ArticlesCelebrity News

Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal were two of the biggest action stars of the 80s and 90s, both with their own idiosyncrasies that allow them to retain substantial fanbases today. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, a level above them on the action stardom totem pole, they had a not-so-friendly rivalry during their heyday that purportedly almost resulted in real-life violence at least once. Van Damme claimed that Seagal was so reluctant to step into the ring with the Muscles from Brussels that he turned down a $20 million paycheck to avoid it.

As Van Damme tells it, famed movie producer Peter Guber had the idea to promote an organized fight between JCVD and Seagal in Vegas sometime in the early 90s. At that time, such an event would have been a commercial bonanza, and the organizers were willing to pony up $20 million each for both Seagal and Van Damme — an enormous sum that would have been much more than either ever made on a single movie as an actor.

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"They were having an idea to have a fight between me and Steven at The Mirage," Van Damme said. "Twenty million each. He didn't take the fight."

There's no telling how successful the fight would have been, but with two movie stars trading shots in public as a promotional ramp-up, the sky might have been the limit. The feud is believed to have begun because of comments made by, naturally, Seagal. In 1991, he took a few shots at Van Damme's martial arts background during an interview with Arsenio Hall, denigrating his championship kickboxing record as possibly illegitimate. This, also naturally, infuriated Van Damme and led to his wanting to challenge Segal to a real fight. According to Van Damme, at least, that was not a real fight that Seagal was interested in having.

Seagal has not commented publicly on the prospect of the fight, but he would almost certainly have his own version of what happened. Perhaps it's not too late for the two to finally settle this old score in a fight now, although they might not be able to secure $20 million paychecks to do it.

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